Christmas Bells

December 1st – headed off to Royal Clifton at Southport to join Southport Rotary for their 95h Charter celebration – guest speaker was Stephen Finnigan MBE,  ex Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary.

Saturday, December 2nd – what an amazing sight to be with Rotarians fromOswestry Borderland at their Christmas Parade. 

President Sherie had told me all about the parade but nothing prepared me for the size and colour and excitement of the six deep followers in the streets of Oswestry.

 

I met President Sherie at the Cattlemarket where all the lorries were gathering with excited children and adults – all with their own theme,.  

The judging categories were:

 

Best Childrens Float, Best youth Float, Best commercial float, best non commercial and best walking float.       The Mayor of Oswesty, Vince Hunt arrived with his daughter,  Amber –   and fortunately we all agreed on the winners. They each received a stunning trophy – a much coveted possession I am sure.

After judging we drove into Oswestry and then got our collection buckets and joined in the parade through Oswestry.

I could not believe the number of people that gather into the market town to see the parade.  All the Rotary Clubs in Oswestry assist Borderland.

The proceeds of the day went to four charities.   A truly marvelous event – well done Oswestry Borderland for keeping this Christmas tradition alive that means so much to the local people.

 

Monday 4th – Governors Continuity meeting at the Beaufort Park.

 

 

Then onto Bebington Rotary to meet up with President John Hulse who I was delighted to see was looking very well.     What a happy and warm welcome I received .       I arrived a little bit early and had a few special moments with a couple of the members and how much I enjoyed being with the club members.

I really am hoping that the Club will sponsor a satellite group in Bromborough – an area ripe for a new satellite club and District have offered their full support.

Thursday 7th – off to Llanfairfechan and Penmaenmawr to see how the Rotarians under the leadership of President  Ron Watson Jones are getting along.

Good to see Mike Vick looking good after retirement and the club is organized by Secretary PDG Geoff Uttley.     A membership showcase event is planned for the new year following a suggestion by Rotarian Andrew Errington. Good luck Llan Pen.

I was looking forward to the Carol Concert at All Saints parish Church, Gresford with President Pene Coles and Wrexham Rotarians but unfortunately it was cancelled owing to the very heavy snowfall.  The new Toxteth Rotary meeting at the PAL Centre, also was cancelled on Monday 11th. This beastly seasonal weather has disrupted a few events but there we go.

Thursday, 14th – off to meet prospective Rotarian Adrian Ford who is helping to start a satellite club in Caernarvon.       We had a walk around the Royal town to look at venues and made an action plan to have two information meetings at the Black Boy in January.

Thursday evening – with President Sydney to join members of Bangor Rotary for the annual carol concert at St. Marys Church Menai Bridge.  Then on for a meal a the Victoria Hotel.   I was thrilled to meet up with the Rev. Ray Smith – a member of Bangor and P/P and `I was delighted to listen to the Chair of the Rotakids Club read one of the lessons so fluently.   Well done to Kate, Pauline and Bob for all they have undertaken in getting this Rotakids Club up and running.  A most pleasant Christmassy evening.

Friday 15th – a trip out with District Youth Service Chair David Brigden to be with the Rotaract Club of Woodfall Primary School.  

I went well equipped with my funky glasses meeting up with President Alan Brown, DGE Steve Martin (a regular visitor to Woodfall and Maria Martin.

 

 

We had a fun morning with the Rotakids and finished off with a cuppa tea and mince pie.

 

 

Sunday, 17th – out with my own Club Saughall at Costco with the Santa sleigh.

Great to be collecting and appreciating the wonderful public that support Rotary so much – especially at Christmas time – but lets be honest – throughout the whole year.

 

 

When I had finished my shift at Saughall and eventually got off the very busy car park at Costco (took ¾ hour to get out), I headed to Flint to meet up with another Santa Float –

 

Flint and Holywell Club were busy at the Flint Retail Park.   Good to meet up with them and spend a short time assisting – even the lahma came along to say “hello”.

 

 

Tuesday 19th December: Flint & Holywell member Paul told me about the Club’s Santa Call at the Druid Inn, Gorsedd, Holywell on Tuesday night so after work, I headed up to Dyserth to wait for the arrival of Santa and his sleigh. The excitement of the children, in the pub with their parents waiting his arrival was electric.     Then off it sailed into the night…..

Wednesday: I met up with DGE Steve to go through his plans for San Diego – the Rotary International Leadership Assembly and chat about the year ahead – the weeks are flying by.

It felt very strange the last week in December not having any Club visits to undertake.   However, it was rather busy at work so most evenings it was work, home, tea and sleep.

Christmas day was, as always, a special family day and we were so fortunate to spend it with our two sons, their lovely wives and our grandchildren.       Paul cooked a delicious meal for us all and after opening gifts, some of us ‘nodded off’  and others played some party games.

At Christmastime we count our blessings but always think of those who are lonely, have lost loved ones, are homeless or in great need.     It is, also, a time when we reflect and remember our own parents who have sadly passed away but who worked hard all year to give us all a happy Christmas.

Boxing Day – Tony and I set off to Denbigh to join the Denbigh Rotarians at their annual ‘Roll the Barrel Contest’ held in the Denbigh High Street.  

 

Rumour has it that the only year a DG has visited was when the late  Gwyn Dryhurst Dodd was DG – a member of their own club – so whether this was truth or not, I had planned to visit the day and enjoy.

I was not disappointed! Now in its 59th year – what a project they undertake.  Raffle tickets had been on sale since my visit to their Club – indeed I bought the first book from them on my club visit  – and they were selling them on the day, also. Plenty of sponsorship had been gained.

 

Straw bales lined the high street and the day began with a tractor parade.

 

 

 

We are right in the heart of Welsh farming country and the tractors were followed by the Denbigh Hunt.   It was a parade of some fine horses, the hounds and riders.   I noticed quite a high Police presence but there was no trouble.

 

Soon the bales of straw were moved across the road and the roll a barrel competitions began.

I was dying to have a go, I must say, but I would have probably fallen to the floor so best I just helped with the Bucket collections.     As always, the public were very generous – especially when they could purchase a raffle ticket with a hope of winning £500 as first prize!

I don’t know how long it took to set up but it took a little time to clear away all the straw, load the bales, sweep up and use ‘blowers’

By 1.15pm. the high street was opened again and was spick and span.

Then off to the pub to enjoy a tasty pint and look back on the morning.

 

Well done Denbigh.   This event gives so much pleasure to the local community on Boxing Day and it is Rotary at its best.     There were so many Rotarians on show flying the flag and I was told the whole club, except one poorly Rotarian, were in attendance.

What a way to end 2017 with an amazing Rotary event.

The first six months of my Governor Year 2017-18 has flown.   I have enjoyed every second – the training, preparation, the club projects, the celebratory occasions, the Rotary business, representing D1180 at General Council, District Conference, etc etc but most of all it’s the Rotarians that I have met and the work that they are undertaking in the name of Rotary.     We are certainly “making a difference” and I now look forward to welcoming in 2018 and the final six months of my Governorship.

The strategies will be continued:   to strengthen and modernize our Clubs, to increase membership in our Clubs and open new Clubs.     I am hoping that some of our satellite clubs will go onto chartering.     We must encourage our Rotary Club members to increase their Foundation Giving and work hard to improve our public image.

Early in 2018 we have the launch of RIBI Rotary 2 (New Club formations), Champions of Change, the Banger Rally, Tree Planting and lots of Club projects.     Lets get our sleeves rolled up again after recharging our batteries over the holidays.

At this time of year it is always sad to hear of passing to higher service of some Rotarians and our kind thoughts and best wishes go out to the Clubs who have recently lost members.   We, also send our best wishes to Rotarians who are not so well at the moment and one in particular is PDG Les Wilson who has recently been in hospital and we send him our very best wishes.

I hope everyone has had a happy Festive Season,  spent with their families and friends – whatever tradition they follow.

And now we can look ahead to 2018.   With 6 months left in the Rotary year – there is plenty of work to be done.

Still some club visits, lots of Charter nights and the main focus will be on increasing our membership with new club openings, strengthening and supporting all our Clubs and increasing our Foundation giving.

Happy New Year to everyone in District 1180 and especially those who follow my Blog.

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